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December 6, 2022 at 8:00 am · · Comments Off on Maine is readying new public-private financing tool to facilitate “green” development

Maine is readying new public-private financing tool to facilitate “green” development

Commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) financing has enabled at least $2 billion of energy-saving upgrades in other states, but Maine bankers fear it will bring added risk to mortgage lenders.

Maine officials are finalizing a new statewide program that will allow commercial property owners and developers to finance energy-saving building upgrades at a lower annual cost through public-private partnerships among property owners, lenders and municipalities.

Known as commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) financing, the program was authorized by Maine lawmakers in 2021 via the passage of LD 340. Rulemaking is being conducted by Efficiency Maine Trust, which will administer the C-PACE program, and that process is expected to be completed in the next few months.

C-PACE programs are designed to make it more affordable for property owners to finance energy-saving building upgrades through an innovative lending structure. Traditionally, construction and retrofitting of commercial buildings is financed with real estate loans whose repayment terms typically range from five to 10 years with a balloon payment due at the end. In contrast, C-PACE programs only cover the cost of energy-saving upgrades, offer terms of 15 to 30 years and are fully amortized with no balloon payment at the end.

At least two dozen states and the District of Columbia have active C-PACE programs in place. Those programs have resulted in more than $2 billion in private capital investment in energy-saving commercial building upgrades, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Connecticut was the first state to launch a C-PACE program in 2013. Since then, the state’s program has financed more than 350 green construction projects valued at over $230 million in total. Those projects have prevented an estimated 927,000 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted, the rough equivalent of taking 185,000 cars off the road.

Some Maine developers say C-PACE will be the most significant new commercial real estate financing tool introduced in the state in decades. It can be used to finance the energy-saving features of new buildings or upgrades to existing structures. The program’s goal is to facilitate a more rapid shift toward energy-efficient buildings in Maine, where many older commercial properties such as apartments, offices and hotels lack modern energy-saving features.

Heating, cooling and lighting of buildings is responsible for 30 percent of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Maine Climate Council. Homes emit 19 percent, while commercial buildings account for 11 percent.

“We’re excited about the potential impact of the C-PACE program and think it’s going to help resolve significant problems in the market,” said James Neal, senior program manager of finance initiatives at Efficiency Maine.

But the C-PACE program is not without controversy. The Maine banking industry lobbied against the program’s enabling legislation and has expressed skepticism about the benefits of C-PACE financing compared with more traditional construction loans.

Under Maine’s program, a property owner’s mortgage lenders must agree to participate in any deals because C-PACE lenders get priority to collect past-due payments in a foreclosure. For that reason, it’s unclear how effective Maine’s program will be in terms of spurring green development. But developers point to banks’ acceptance of C-PACE deals in other states as cause for optimism.

Mark Stasium, director of commercial real estate lending at Camden National Bank, said the industry is still “trying to get its arms around” the potential risks and benefits of Maine’s new C-PACE program.

“As a general rule, bankers don’t like liens that have priority over our mortgages,” he said. “In a default situation, the C-PACE loan is going to have priority over the bank.”

The Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) is hosting a breakfast panel from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, at Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland to discuss the new program. Panelists will include Michael Doty of Nuveen Green Capital, the nation’s leading C-PACE loan provider, James Neal of Efficiency Maine and Mark Stasium of Camden National Bank. The panel will be moderated by Paul Peck, founder of LWS Development and attorney at Drummond & Drummond.

Peck said Maine’s development community and property owners are thrilled the state enacted a new financing tool to help further its energy-efficiency goals.

“C-PACE will give developers and property owners another financing option, which will help get new development projects started and existing properties brought up to current energy-efficiency standards,” he said. “Given the huge spike in commercial interest rates, another financing tool is just what developers and property owners need.”

C-PACE financing is conducted through private lenders but is separate from a property’s other mortgage loans. With C-PACE financing, the responsibility for continued loan repayment is attached to the property itself and can be transferred to the property’s new owner in the event of a sale.

The building owner’s local municipality must have opted into the C-PACE program via a local ordinance, since it will be involved in attaching the debt to the property. The cities of Portland, South Portland and Westbrook already have potential C-PACE projects in the pipeline, although no local ordinances will be considered until after the rulemaking is completed.

Michael Doty, director of originations for New England at Nuveen Green Capital, said hundreds of cities and lenders in other states have come around to embracing C-PACE financing once they became more familiar with how the programs work.

He said C-PACE financing not only can help reduce Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions but also facilitate affordable housing development by making green multifamily projects feasible that otherwise wouldn’t be. Doty aims to convince more Maine lenders and municipalities to get on board.

“It can never be used in circumstances where the local bankers and municipalities aren’t comfortable with it,” he said.

 

November 29, 2022 at 8:00 am · · Comments Off on MEREDA Inducts Four Exceptional Individuals to Honorary Board as Directors Emeritus

MEREDA Inducts Four Exceptional Individuals to Honorary Board as Directors Emeritus

PORTLAND, Maine — On November 3, 2022, the Maine Real Estate and Development Association (MEREDA) inducted four exceptional individuals to their Honorary Board as Directors Emeritus. The MEREDA Board of Directors established the Honorary Board in 2003 as a way to recognize an exclusive group of individuals who, during their careers, have made significant contributions to MEREDA and to Maine’s commercial real estate industry. The induction ceremony took place during MEREDA’s 37th Anniversary Gala at Ocean Gateway in Portland.

MEREDA’s Board outlined the following criteria for individuals to be nominated to the title of Director Emeritus: nominees must have previously served as an officer of MEREDA or a member of its Board of Directors; they must be active and well-recognized in Maine’s commercial real estate industry; and they must have made significant contributions to MEREDA and Maine’s commercial real estate industry throughout their careers. This year’s Directors Emeritus Honorees include Drew E. Swenson, Dana Totman, Larry Wold, and Renee Lewis.

“Since 1985, MEREDA has been promoting opportunities that help our communities and our State thrive,” says MEREDA President Craig Young. “Reflecting on 37 years of MEREDA also means reflecting on 37 years of exceptional member volunteerism and engagement. Our four Directors Emeritus Honorees are outstanding examples of this kind of contribution; all have made an indelible mark on Maine’s real estate industry and have had a big impact on MEREDA and its mission to promote responsible development.”

For more information on each recipient, click here.

MEREDA’s 2022 Director Emeritus Honorees:
Larry Wold, Renee Lewis, Dana Totman, and Drew Swenson

November 22, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Deering Place

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Deering Place

Each year, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) recognizes some of the state’s most “noteworthy and significant” real estate projects, completed in the previous year. The exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2021, not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to Maine’s economic growth by significant investment of resources and job creation statewide.

This year, MEREDA honored projects from Portland to Biddeford to Bangor, with each receiving special recognition at MEREDA’s 2022 Spring Conference on May 24th.

In a multi-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation. MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

MEREDA’s 2021 Top 7 recipients include:

Harold Alfond Hall, Husson University (Bangor)
Thornton Heights Commons, South Portland Housing Development Corporation (South Portland)
Harnois & Emery Apartments, Westbrook Housing, Westbrook Development Corporation, and Anew Development (Westbrook)
Riverdam Mill Complex, Port Property (Biddeford)
40 Free Street, JB Brown & Sons & Ryan Senatore Architecture, (Portland)
Deering Place, Zachau Construction & Avesta Housing, (Portland)
Children’s Museum + Theatre Maine, Zachau Construction (Portland)

Please join us this week in celebrating Deering Place.

 

MEREDA: Describe the building and project.

Deering Place:  Deering Place: Deering Place preserves, redevelops, and expands affordable housing in a highly desirable and accessible location within Portland, Maine. Deering Place is a 75-unit, mixed-income development that includes a major renovation of 13 existing units and the construction of two new residential buildings on lots adjacent to the existing building. Upon completion, there are 62 new units. Amenities include a new community room, laundry rooms, and indoor parking that will be accessible to residents in all buildings. There will be easily-accessible walkways and sitting areas. There is currently a community policing office onsite that will remain. Deering Place comes at a time when the need for affordable housing in Portland is greater than ever.

MEREDA: What was the impetus for this project?

Deering Place:  Deering Place: Deering Place set to preserve, redevelop, and expand affordable housing in a highly desirable and accessible location within Portland, Maine. The development site contained three contiguous lots in a highly walkable area in the historic Parkside neighborhood in downtown Portland. Deering Place is in close proximity to daily amenities and services within the downtown area, which makes it a prime location for housing. MaineHealth, Deering Oaks park, a pharmacy, bus stops, schools, grocery stores, shops and restaurants are all within a half mile.

Deering Place: Deering Place is a 75-unit, mixed-income development that included a major renovation of 13 existing units and the construction of two new residential buildings on lots adjacent to the existing building.

Deering Place comes at a time when the need for affordable housing in Portland is greater than ever.

MEREDA: That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started? 

Deering Place:  Deering Place: As the construction management partner on the project, we were in the planning stages with Avesta Housing for about a year and a half.

MEREDA: Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.

Deering Place:  Deering Place: Budget constraints required creative scope adjustments to deliver high-quality, energy-efficient buildings that meet design requirements within national historic district and performance standards from the City, MaineHousing, and HUD. The capital stack included seven sources and nine financing partners, including some entirely new to Maine. Additionally, Deering Place was a complex construction project on a tight urban site in an historic district mixing occupied rehab, adaptive reuse, and new construction.

MEREDA: Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

Deering Place:  Deering Place: Deering Place offers affordable housing in downtown Portland, putting residents at the center of services and jobs. The desire for this level of housing is so great that Avesta Housing had over 800 applications for 75 units. This location is close to public transportation, food, services, and health care. In addition to this project being noteworthy in its ability to fill a void in downtown Portland for low-income housing, the construction of the project itself was notable in that it was an occupied rehabilitation. This tight location has 3 buildings, one of which had to meet historical renovations standards to fit in with the Parkside neighborhood.

November 14, 2022 at 10:43 am · · Comments Off on REGISTRATION IS OPEN! MEREDA’s Signature Event is January 26, 2023

REGISTRATION IS OPEN! MEREDA’s Signature Event is January 26, 2023

MEREDA’s 2023 Annual Forecast Conference & Member Showcase will be held in-person at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

Join us and the top minds in real estate for MEREDA’s 2023 Annual Forecast Conference and Member Showcase on January 26, 2023 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

As is expected, you’ll hear from an exciting lineup of speakers who will present on the trends and influences in various sectors of real estate across Maine. Be a part of this dynamic and important conversation as we kick off 2023!  Upwards of 1000 real estate professionals will once again convene at the Cross Insurance Arena to discuss the Maine Real Estate economy.

Registration available here.

Interested in Sponsoring or Exhibiting?  Check out that information here.

November 1, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on Election day is next week. We encourage you to vote and make your voice heard!

Election day is next week. We encourage you to vote and make your voice heard!

On November 8, 2022, Portland voters will consider 13 ballot questions, consisting of five proposed Citizen’s Initiative questions and eight proposed Portland Charter Commission questions. These 13 questions, an unusually large amount for any one election, would significantly threaten Portland’s long-term viability. Specifically, four of the five Citizen’s Initiative questions, which are sponsored by the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, would drive rents up, make it harder to live in Portland, force restaurants to hire fewer workers, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. They are:

Question B – An Act to Reduce the Number of Short-Term Rentals in Portland: This proposal would restrict short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs, in Portland to only those that are owner-occupied, tenant-occupied, or is one unit of an owner-occupied duplex. Further, it would reduce the cap on non-owner-occupied short-term rentals from 400 to approximately 170. Additionally, it would increase the fees for all short-term rentals.

Question C An Act to Protect Tenants in Portland: This proposal would reduce the allowable increase for cost of living to 70% of CPI annually. Further, this proposal would remove the allowable annual increase due to an increase in property taxes. Additionally, this proposal would increase notice for rent increase and lease terminations from 75 days to 90 days.

Question D – An Act to Eliminate Sub-Minimum Wage, Increase Minimum Wages and Strengthen Protections for Workers: This proposal would raise the minimum wage to $18 per hour on January 1, 2025, while expanding the definition of covered employees/employers to include tax drivers, rideshare drivers, and delivery services. Further, this proposal would impact hazard pay at $27 per hour during declared states of emergency. Additionally, this proposal would eliminate the tip credit by January 1, 2025, so all employees previously eligible for tips would instead be paid $18 per hour.

Question E – An Act to Restrict Cruise Ships in Order to Reduce Congestion and Pollution: This proposal would require cruise ships to obtain a permit from the city that limit the number of passengers who may disembark to no more than 1,000 people on a given day, in aggregate.

A competing referendum question, Question A – An Act to Regulate Short-Term Rentals in Portland and Prohibit Corporate and Absentee Operation of Short-Term Rental Properties, would retain the 400-unit cap on non-owner-occupied short-term rentals, but would limit registration for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals to only local residents (those residing within 20 miles of Portland), single-member LLCs owned by local residents, or units where a local resident has been designated to be available 24 hours per day to respond to complaints about a unit.

Voters will also face eight questions proposed by the Portland Charter Commission’s Amendments to the Portland City Charter. They are:

Question 1 – Preamble and Land Acknowledgement: This amendment would revise the existing preamble and insert an acknowledgement that Portland sits on unceded Wabanaki land.

Question 2 – Governance: This amendment would establish an executive mayor, allow the council to remove or censure the mayor, change from a city manager to a chief administrator, increase the number of city council seats from nine (9) to twelve (12), and make several other changes to governance.

Question 3 – Clean Elections: This amendment would create a municipal clean elections program.

Question 4 – Proportional Ranked-Choice Voting: This amendment would authorize the city to use a proportional ranked-choice voting method for elections in which more than one person is to be elected for a single office.

Question 5 – School Budget Autonomy: This amendment would change the school budget adoption process by transferring school budget adoption authority from the city council to the school board.

Question 6 – Peaks Island Council: This amendment would maintain the ordinance establishing the Peaks Island Council as an elected advisory body to the city council.

Question 7 – Civilian Police Review Board: This amendment would replace the Police Citizen Review Subcommittee with a civilian police review board consisting of nine (9) or more members.

Question 8 – Ethics Commission and Code of Ethics: This amendment would require the City Council to form an independent Ethics Commission and adopt a Code of Ethics recommended by the Ethics Commission.

Election day is next week. We encourage you to vote and make your voice heard, as these questions could affect Portland for years to come. Absentee voting is currently underway. Maine citizens who are registered to vote may use the Maine Absentee Ballot Request service to request an absentee ballot for the November 8, 2022 General Election. Absentee ballots must be received no later than 8:00 p.m. EDT on Election Day.

October 11, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Children’s Museum + Theatre

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Children’s Museum + Theatre

Each year, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) recognizes some of the state’s most “noteworthy and significant” real estate projects, completed in the previous year. The exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2021, not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to Maine’s economic growth by significant investment of resources and job creation statewide.

This year, MEREDA honored projects from Portland to Biddeford to Bangor, with each receiving special recognition at MEREDA’s 2022 Spring Conference on May 24th.

In a multi-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation. MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

MEREDA’s 2021 Top 7 recipients include:

Harold Alfond Hall, Husson University (Bangor)
Thornton Heights Commons, South Portland Housing Development Corporation (South Portland)
Harnois & Emery Apartments, Westbrook Housing, Westbrook Development Corporation, and Anew Development (Westbrook)
Riverdam Mill Complex, Port Property (Biddeford)
40 Free Street, JB Brown & Sons & Ryan Senatore Architecture, (Portland)
Deering Place, Zachau Construction & Avesta Housing, (Portland)
Children’s Museum + Theatre Maine, Zachau Construction (Portland)

Please join us this week in celebrating Children’s Museum + Theatre Maine.

MEREDA: Describe the building and project.

Children’s Museum + Theatre:  The Children’s Museum + Theatre of Maine has been a longstanding staple of the Southern Maine Community. Offering a location for Children to play, explore and learn. The Children’s Museum launched a $14Million Capital Campaign to build the 30,000 SF new building on Thompson’s Point in Portland. Zachau Construction completed this project, delivering an iconic Portland building that can be seen from I295 and will be a place of exploration for Maine’s young community. The Museum will offer many new exhibits, each one was specifically reworked after the initial plans were created to make sure that people with disabilities can do as much as possible in the museum.

MEREDA: What was the impetus for this project?

Children’s Museum + Theatre:  The new CMTM, increased from a smaller footprint in downtown Portland to 30,000 SF on Thompson’s Point which increased the need for staffing within the organization. Additionally, as the location has moved to location much more accessible to the public, this increases revenue for the organization and creates another attraction in Portland.

MEREDA: That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started? 

Children’s Museum + Theatre:  As the construction management partner on the project, we were in the planning stages with the Children’s Museum + Theatre for about a four years.

MEREDA: Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.

Children’s Museum + Theatre:  As with all builds in 2020 and 2021, we had to overcome the uncertainty of COVID 19 and delays and supply chain issues associated with the pandemic. In addition to the pandemic the site where the building sits had to be stabilized to support the building. We used a method called Surcharge or preloading, which is used by the soil engineers to improve the weak compressible earth, by subjecting the site to an additional fill.

MEREDA: Something unexpected you learned along the way was….

Children’s Museum + Theatre:  The building features a unique colorful siding that mimics patterns found in nature. Also a giant one-of-a-kind periscopic camera obscura owned by the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. The camera’s high-end optics, including a special aluminum-coated mirror used in large telescopes and two precision lenses fabricated by Kodak Inc.’s military division, will project the panoramic views visible from the rooftop down onto an exhibit table on the third floor, just as it did previously at the Free Street location. CMTM also has a live active beehive as one of its many state-of-the-art exhibits.

MEREDA: Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

Children’s Museum + Theatre:  This noteworthy addition to Portland, Maine features a unique multi-color siding drawing attention to its location on Thompson’s Point. The siding was designed to support the museum’s mission to inspire discovery and imagination through exploration and play. The exterior is composed of painted metal shingles and inspired by patterns in nature, such as ripples on the water, butterfly wings, fish scales, etc. The project also features state-of-the-art exhibits, theatre and adds to the Maine Arts and Culture scene.

September 27, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on 4 Ways to Prepare Your Business for a Storm

4 Ways to Prepare Your Business for a Storm

By Barb Rapoza and Holly Merrill, Marketing Managers, SERVPRO  

Here in Maine our weather can be unpredictable, and we do not know what to expect after a storm event. The storm could bring on flooding, wind, snow, or ice buildup and depending on the severity it can interrupt businesses from operating normally. Some businesses end up having to close their doors whether it be temporarily or permanently as they do not have contingency or action plans in place. Don’t be one of the potential businesses that do not reopen after a disaster.

When flood water enters your building, your first thought may be related to how you could have prevented the disaster. Instead of letting a flooded building ruin your operations for several days, or even several weeks, there are steps you should take to prepare your business for impending storms.

  1. Develop a Plan 

Planning for water damage is the best way to deal with it when it arrives. Decide who is responsible for doing what in the event of a disaster and what you need to do to operate your business from a remote site. You should write out this plan and introduce it to your employees, so they are aware of what to do when flood water entering your building becomes a possibility.

  1. Back Up Your Data

Your business’ data and important information may not survive a flood if it is not backed up to remote or cloud-based servers. Well before a disaster hits, take time to research data backup options and transfer important information from your physical location to electronic files.

  1. Watch the Weather

It’s hard to know if a flood will happen if you aren’t aware of the weather. Pay attention to the weather in your area and put your emergency plan into action if there is a chance your location could flood in the event of a serious storm.

  1. Plan for Quick Restoration

Before a storm hits your location, know the names, and contact information for your key contractors (Plumbers, Electricians, HVAC Company, Painters, Landscaping, Snow Removal, and Restoration Professional, etc.) Be sure to have all your key utility contact details and ensure your staff know the locations of key shut offs. You should be able to access this information easily if flood water enters your building, so you can protect your operations and clean up the damage a quickly as possible. Failure to eliminate standing floodwater and dry out your building’s structure and materials as quickly as you can, could result in additional damage, lost operation time, and mold growth.

Getting your own plan together can help prevent you from being one of the up to 50% of businesses that do not reopen after some sort of storm disaster. If you need assistance putting a plan together, we can assist you with our emergency ready profile. This is a no cost assessment that will walk you through all of these steps and help make it easier for you to put together and you will receive a hard copy and online access as well as be able to download it within your app store so you can have it with you at all times. For more information, you can contact Barb Rapoza at barbara@servprobb.com or Holly Merrill at holly@servproportland.me.

 

September 20, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on 40 Free Street (Portland)

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on 40 Free Street (Portland)

Each year, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) recognizes some of the state’s most “noteworthy and significant” real estate projects, completed in the previous year. The exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2021, not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to Maine’s economic growth by significant investment of resources and job creation statewide.

This year, MEREDA honored projects from Portland to Biddeford to Bangor, with each receiving special recognition at MEREDA’s 2022 Spring Conference on May 24th.

In a multi-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation. MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

MEREDA’s 2021 Top 7 recipients include:

Harold Alfond Hall, Husson University (Bangor)
Harnois & Emery Apartments, Westbrook Housing, Westbrook Development Corporation, and Anew Development (Westbrook)
Thornton Heights Commons, South Portland Housing Development Corporation (South Portland)
Riverdam Mill Complex, Port Property (Biddeford)
40 Free Street, JB Brown & Sons & Ryan Senatore Architecture, (Portland)
Deering Place, Zachau Construction & Avesta Housing, (Portland)
Children’s Museum + Theatre Maine, Zachau Construction (Portland)

Please join us this week in celebrating 40 Free Street.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

40 Free Street: Located in Portland’s Old Port, 40 Free Street is a new construction mixed-use building made up of five retail spaces at the street level and 51 market-rate apartment units on its upper floors. Prior to its development, the project site was occupied by a surface parking lot which limited density in Portland’s downtown urban core and fractured the historic streetscape along Free Street. Through development of an energy-efficient building, offering environmental, economic, and social benefits, the 40 Free Street project provides an architecturally holistic solution for its site and for downtown Portland.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?  

40 Free Street: We felt the break in the pedestrian street wall was problematic, as were cars entering and exiting between buildings. This, coupled with the need for housing, we felt the project would be successful.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

40 Free Street: We started the planning/development process in early 2019, commenced construction in the summer of 2019 and opened in April 2021, so the full process was about 27 months.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.

40 Free Street: Site work is always a challenge as is the final punch list for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, which was further complicated by the Pandemic.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was….

40 Free Street: That you can plan for typical bumps with any project, but the Pandemic was a new twist that we needed to manage through.

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

40 Free Street: How the building fits seamlessly into the urban fabric of Free Street.

September 16, 2022 at 3:55 pm · · Comments Off on The Party is Back On! MEREDA’s 35th Anniversary Gala is on 11.3.22

The Party is Back On! MEREDA’s 35th Anniversary Gala is on 11.3.22

As you know, MEREDA’s 35th Anniversary Gala was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19. We are excited to announce that we have scheduled this momentous occasion to now take place on November 3, 2022 at Ocean Gateway in Portland, and You are Cordially Invited!

We are excited to celebrate what will now be our 37th Anniversary together with you! Please join us for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and our Council of Directors Emeritus Induction. The Annual Member meeting will take place prior to the Gala starting at 4:45.

MEREDA’s 35th Anniversary Gala
November 3, 2022
5pm – 8pm

Ocean Gateway Terminal
14 Ocean Gateway Pier
Portland, ME 04101

For more information and to register, please click here.

REFUND POLICY:

No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers but fails to attend or who cancels after October 27th.

September 6, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Harnois & Emery Apartments (Westbrook)

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Harnois & Emery Apartments (Westbrook)

Each year, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) recognizes some of the state’s most “noteworthy and significant” real estate projects, completed in the previous year. The exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2021, not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to Maine’s economic growth by significant investment of resources and job creation statewide.

This year, MEREDA honored projects from Portland to Biddeford to Bangor, with each receiving special recognition at MEREDA’s 2022 Spring Conference on May 24th.

In a multi-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation. MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

MEREDA’s 2021 Top 7 recipients include:

Harold Alfond Hall, Husson University (Bangor)
Harnois & Emery Apartments, Westbrook Housing, Westbrook Development Corporation, and Anew Development (Westbrook)
Thornton Heights Commons, South Portland Housing Development Corporation (South Portland)
Riverdam Mill Complex, Port Property (Biddeford)
40 Free Street, JB Brown & Sons & Ryan Senatore Architecture, (Portland)
Deering Place, Zachau Construction & Avesta Housing, (Portland)
Children’s Museum + Theatre Maine, Zachau Construction (Portland)

Please join us this week in celebrating Harnois & Emery Apartments.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Harnois & Emery Apartments:  Harnois & Emery Apartments is a two-phased, 91-unit apartment complex at 67 & 70 Ruth Hunton Court in Westbrook. Completed in January of 2021, Phase I is the 5-story, 61-unit Robert Harnois Apartments. In November of 2021, Phase II was completed; the 4-story, 30-unit Lewis Emery Apartments. These combined 91 apartments serve low-income Westbrook seniors with high-quality, beautiful, and affordable homes at a time of unprecedented housing need in the community. Resident amenities include outdoor gathering spaces, universal accessibility, a beautifully furnished 2,000 s.f multi-purpose room, a fitness center, laundry and community rooms, and a meandering nature path with benches set at scenic viewpoints.

The Harnois & Emery campus is set high on Deer Hill in a quiet, idyllic wooded setting providing residents with a calming connection to nature. At the same time, it is a short walk to Westbrook’s Main Street shopping district including the Kohl’s and Rock Row plazas as well as a Metro bus stop providing easy access across greater Portland.

Harnois & Emery Apartments were funded by a complex stack of capital sources and financial instruments made possible by MaineHousing, Boston Financial, the City of Westbrook, Westbrook Housing, and Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution. Westbrook Housing and Anew Development are grateful to the Harnois & Emery design and construction teams. Benchmark Construction provided excellent planning and oversight as the project’s Construction Manager. Archetype Architects, Gorrill-Palmer provided the innovative design and engineering services that
physically transformed the property and the attorneys at Drummond Woodsum guided the project with expert legal counsel.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the entire Riverview Terrace team, these 91 units of quality senior housing have been developed to serve Westbrook area seniors for generations to come in an environment that supports them not just with financial security but with independence, comfort, safety, social connectivity, and health and well-being.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?  

Harnois & Emery Apartments: Westbrook Housing recognized a unique opportunity to address the unmet housing needs of lower-income Westbrook Seniors by developing a roughly 5.5-acre parcel of urban infill land using a blend of available Federal, State, local and private housing resources.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Harnois & Emery Apartments: Conceptual planning and due diligence began in 2013 and the project was finally fully permitted and funded by 2019.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.

Harnois & Emery Apartments: The challenges facing the project were many. It started with the physical challenges presented by the site. Steep slopes, ledge, cross easements, and traffic control all presented significant design challenges. The project would never have moved past a concept without the skill and dedication of the design team at Archetype Architects and the engineering oversight of Steve Bushey at Gorrill Palmer. Given the high development costs created by the infill challenges presented by the site, the project was more difficult to fund than many. If not for the steadfast dedication of MaineHousing, Boston Financial, the City of Westbrook, and Westbrook Housing, the project would never have been possible.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was….

Harnois & Emery Apartments: The project taught us once again the massive importance of assembling a winning project development team. Affordable housing development is seldom or predictable but with a high-capacity, dedicated, and well-coordinated team of regulators, funders, designers, builders in place, challenges to the project’s success can be overcome.

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

Harnois & Emery Apartments: As developers, we have spent nearly 10 years planning and negotiating Harnois & Emery’s complex interplay of dollars, dates, and details. At the end of the day, however, the most notable outcome of the project is the immensely positive impact it has on its residents and the community at large. The 91 seniors who now call Harnois & Emery home now live with improved economic security, physical comfort, and social support. All of the developers’ hard work and challenges melt away in memory when they meet residents and hear them explain how important the project is to their lives and to members of their families and community support networks. While Harnois & Emery are, on their face, real estate developments, at their heart they are great feats of human and community development.